Using alligator clips to connect feeders to bus wire

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#1
Anyone do this? I'm only considering this because I know if I'm trying to solder the feeders to the bus wire under the table, I'm gonna have burnt spots in the carpet from falling solder, plus it's awkward for me to get under the table and then try to solder.
 

migalyto

Active Member
#2
Have you thought of using suitcase connectors (Scotch locks)? No soldering required. I would think that alligator clips would be a short hazard, as they would be exposed.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#3
The correct name for suitcase connectors is IDC (insulation displacement connectors) because that is how they work. When I went looking for some, even at an electrical component retailer, I found only ones that suited similarly sized wires. What you will need is ones that allow for the main buss wire you are using ( the one closest to the hinge of the "suitcase") and with the secondary position in the IDC, sized to suit your feeder wires.
 

fcwilt

Active Member
#4
The correct name for suitcase connectors is IDC (insulation displacement connectors) because that is how they work. When I went looking for some, even at an electrical component retailer, I found only ones that suited similarly sized wires. What you will need is ones that allow for the main buss wire you are using ( the one closest to the hinge of the "suitcase") and with the secondary position in the IDC, sized to suit your feeder wires.
3M 905s are usually suitable. The "run" connection is for 14-18, the "tap" connection is for 18-22.

Some folks like the 925X where the "run" connection is for 14-18 but instead of a "tap" connection it accepts a male spade connector, which allows disconnecting the "tap" wire as needed.

Frederick
 
#5
3M 905s are usually suitable. The "run" connection is for 14-18, the "tap" connection is for 18-22.

Some folks like the 925X where the "run" connection is for 14-18 but instead of a "tap" connection it accepts a male spade connector, which allows disconnecting the "tap" wire as needed.

Frederick
These sound like the ticket, I'll see if I can locate some. :)
 
#7
I use ScotchLok 567 IDC (insulation displacement connectors) on my layout with no problem. I also use them on my FreeMo modules which have now been in service six years. Wouldn't use anything else.
Wayne
 
#8
I went to HD this morning and they just had the regular looking suitcase connectors, so that's what I got in the size I needed. If they give me trouble I can always change em out with one of the other connectors that have been mentioned.
 

migalyto

Active Member
#9
What you bought will work out well, and the beauty is, no soldering! I went with the T-Tap connector due to my bus wire being 12G and my feeders are 22G. I couldn't find a Scotchlock that would connect those 2 sizes.

 
#10
Thanks for all the info. I had planned on soldering , but after running the bus wire yesterday, I realized that I was not going to be able to get underneath and do that, due to my back.
 

fcwilt

Active Member
#11
Hi,

My plan to provide full computer control of my layout meant I was going to have a lot of wiring to do underneath.

Because of my age I decided to build a nice "creeper" to make things as pleasant as possible.

I started with a creeper off of Amazon and modified it. I added some wood to raise it up to a better height. I also added a device that was intended for mounting a TV, with a serving tray attached for holding tools.

Frederick
 

Attachments

#13
Yes, but only as a temporary thing while testing the trackage.

I know if I'm trying to solder the feeders to the bus wire under the table, I'm gonna have burnt spots in the carpet from falling solder,.
That is what large pieces of cut open cardboard boxes is for.

I have had mixed luck with IDCs. Found that in large bundles of wire they are troublesome because they make it hard to pull a wire out or thread another into the bundle. At the club we had some of the IDCs cut the strands of the wire and basically reducing its capacity. On a draw bridge where they got moved often, they eventually cut the wire. Avoid those situations and they seem to work ok.

I consider an under-layout creeper to be an essential tool.
 
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wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#14
As Horseman said, using alligator clips might be okay as a temporary measure or for a test track but definitely not for permanent wiring on a layout for the reason/s already stated.

Like most, I also don't like working "under the layout" - it is cramped, awkward and just not a nice thing to do especially when trying to solder wires together and having to control the wires, solder and a gun. There are alternatives, as have already mentioned but one alternative has been over looked or not considered.

Depending on the size of your layout and the amount of feeders you need one option is this:

Lay your "main bus wires" out on top of your track work (on top of the layout).
Solder your feeder wires to the main bus wires.
"MARK" on the layout where those feeders will come through the bench work.
Drill the holes through the bench work for the feeders.

Pick up your Main Bus Wire with Feeders where a feeder joins the main bus.
Take the entire wiring "loom" beneath the layout.
Push the feeder your holding through it's respective hole in the bench work. (The rest should line up very closely to their respective holes in the bench work)
Secure that feeder on top of the bench work using a weight.
Secure your Main Bus to the under side of the bench work.
Go around and push the remaining feeders through the bench work.

Now all you have to do is solder the feeders to the track. You might need a second set of hands to help get the main bus beneath the bench work to begin with, if only to make things a little easier and perhaps less tangled.

It may sound like a lot of work but will reduce the amount of time you are under the layout and will eliminate the need to do any "actual work", other than securing the main bus wires, beneath the bench work. Just make sure that you make your feeders a little longer than might be needed to give you a little flexibility when soldering them to the rails.
 
#15
Good idea Wombat, and actually I thought of doing something similar, but decided on the connectors. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have it done, if other things, and my energy, doesn't slow me down. :)
 



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